Pulsed positive corona streamer propagation and branching

E.M. Veldhuizen, van, W.R. Rutgers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

220 Citations (Scopus)


The propagation and branching of pulsed positive corona streamers in a short gap is observed with high resolution in space and time. The appearance of the pre-breakdown phenomena can be controlled by the electrode configuration, the gas composition and the impedance of the pulsed power circuit. In a point-wire gap the positive corona shows much more branching than in the parallel plane gap with a protrusion. In air, the branching is more pronounced than in argon. The pulsed power circuit appears to operate in two modes, either as an inductive circuit creating a lower number of thick streamers or as a resistive circuit giving a higher number of thin streamers. A possible cause for branching is electrostatic repulsion of two parts of the streamer head. The electric field at the streamer head is limited, the maximum values found are ~170 kV cm/sup -1/ in air and ~100 kV cm/sup -1/ in argon. At these maximum field strengths, the electrons have 5-10 eV energy, so the ionization is dominated by two-step processes. Differences between argon and ambient air in the field strength at which streamers propagate are ascribed to the difference in de-excitation processes in noble and molecular gases. The fact that the pulsed power circuit can control the streamer structure is important for applications, but this effect must also be taken into account in fundamental studies of streamer propagation and branching
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2169-2179
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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